The Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) cover approximately 6,000 sq km, and have almost 3.5 million inhabitants. Nearly half are under the age of 15, and the current birth rate is 5.7 children per family. The West Bank is 83 per cent Palestinian Arab and 17 per cent Jewish; Gaza is 99 per cent Arab.
Palestinian Daily life
The Palestinians earn their living partly through agriculture, but many work in some sort of service industry. The authorities receive economic aid totalling about US$865 million annually. Nevertheless, about 60 per cent of the Palestinian population live under the poverty line and there is not sufficient medical care. Approximately 30,000 people work in Israel, but frequent army controls make it difficult for them to get to work. Because of the continuing Palestinian uprising (“Intifada”) which started in September 2000, the border with Israel is sometimes completely closed for weeks, and the unemployment rate is said to have reached 50-60 per cent because of this.
Daily life in the Palestinian Territories is characterised by two factors: frustration and social decay because of the Israeli occupation, and intense Islamic indoctrination, which begins at childhood and teaches that the West, and especially “the Jews”, are the worst enemies of Islam. With promises of Paradise, young people (teenagers) are encouraged to undertake suicide attacks. While more and more parents are going against these ideas, a Muslim mother who refuses to sacrifice her child to Islam is still considered a “traitor”.
Palestinian society is still very much shaped by traditional Arabic-Islamic values, despite Western influence. Although many Palestinian women attend university nowadays, their freedom of movement is restricted. Honour and virginity of a woman are considered to be the most valuable family treasure and, should it be necessary, honour will be restored by killing the transgressor. Even when a woman is raped, she normally gets the blame for the loss of her honour.
Many Palestinian Christians have emigrated during the last 20 years because of intense threats and persecution – in particular against converts. The Christian percentage of the population has dropped from 15 per cent to 2 per cent. Private Palestinian Christian schools, which try to offer an alternative to the usual propaganda, work under very difficult conditions.
Prayer for the Muslim Palestinians:
* Muslim Palestinians need to encounter the Saviour of all men. Pray that Jesus will reveal Himself to them.
* Pray for peace in the Middle East. After decades of war, the hatred planted in hearts is producing fruit and has made people bitter. Corruption and abuse within government and society motivate some to join the radical groups.
* Pray for the believers working in Christian schools and hospitals to be able to exhibit love in the darkness.
* Pray for strength and wisdom for Christian churches and fellowships, which often suffer both from Israeli actions and from discrimination from their fellow Palestinians.